IBM report: CIOs spur provider innovation

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Chief information officers (CIOs) spend more than half their time on activities designed to spur innovation within their organizations, according to a report conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value.

The IBM study consisted of one-hour, face-to-face interviews with more than 2,500 CIOs from organizations of various sizes from 78 countries and 19 different industries. According to IBM, the results show that “successful CIOs are much more actively engaged in setting strategy, enabling flexibility and change, and solving business problems, not just IT problems.”

CIOs spend 55 percent of their time on projects aimed at spurring innovation, while the other 45 percent of their time is spent on more traditional tasks such as reducing IT costs, mitigating enterprise risks and leveraging automation to reduce costs elsewhere in the organization.

According to the study, CIOs believe they have complementary, yet conflicting goals within their organizations. For example, while they need to focus on the IT needs of their organizations, concerns about implementing new technology are often addressed only after current IT needs are dealt with.

Based on the responses of the CIOs, IBM determined that “successful” CIOs blend three pairs of roles:

  1. An Insightful Visionary and an Able Pragmatist;
  1. A Savvy Value Creator and a Relentless Cost Cutter; and
  1. A Collaborative Business Leader and an Inspiring IT Manager.

By integrating these three pairs of roles CIOs should be able to plan for innovation in a way that also takes into account business realities; raise the return on investment of IT by focusing on lowering costs and increasing efficiency; and expand IT’s impact on business.

While the amount of emphasis each CIO places on the three pairs of roles depends on a variety of factors, including macroeconomics, regional characteristics, as well as the CIO’s own set of skills and aspirations, the report’s findings “show that successful CIOs discover ways to focus on high-value projects in support of their organizations.”